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Q: On the official SWTOR podcast, we heard that Augment stations were going to be added to the game with Patch 1.3. Could you talk a little bit about what they are and how they will work?

A: Our goal with the modification system has always been to allow players to use any gear they choose and have it function at maximum statistical efficiency. Most of the major itemization changes we’ve added have been moving towards this goal, such as moving set bonuses to mods and allowing extraction on endgame items. Augment tables are the next step in this process.

With the introduction of Augment Tables, you can interact with all the previously useless Item Modification Stations spread throughout the world and use them to add an augment slot to any wearable item of at least green quality – which is basically everything except some junk loot on the origin worlds. Previously, this slot was only available for crit-crafted items, and in 1.2 it means that a very limited selection of the items are statistically ideal. When you open up the Item Modification window, you’ll notice a new “Add Augment Slot” button. The new button is greyed out unless you’re interacting with a station. Fortunately, the way augment tables work allows us to apply this to all items, unlike the set bonuses where the ability to transfer them only applies to mods introduced in 1.2 or later.

Adding an augment slot has a cost that scales up for the level of augments you want to be able to use. Unlike other mod slots, the augment slot is now tiered. This means you can add a slot that supports low level augments for substantially less cost than a high level augment slot.

If you choose to apply a lower tier augment, you can upgrade it later. As a side bonus, we’re making a few quality of life updates to the modification window, but you’ll have to wait until 1.3 reaches the public to see those.

Q: What kind of pricing are we looking at?

A: There are two costs to add an augment slot: credits and an Augmentation Kit. The current cost progression starts at 4,500 credits and ends at 50,000 credits, while the kits come in the same MKs that match the types of slots you can add to an item.

Kits are acquired through three crew skills: Armstech, Armormech and Synthweaving. There is no difference in the kits they make, and they can find the recipes on the trainer. In order to create a kit, you need 10 Augmentation Slot Components of the appropriate MK. You receive one component whenever you Reverse Engineer a piece of crafted gear. Note that this is a non-random addition on top of the other returns you already get from RE, meaning that every 10 consumed items will reliably give you the components for one kit. This helps counteract bad luck dealing with randomness and crafting crits, as you’re guaranteed to be able to get the primary limiting component for an augment slot after 10 crafts. Note that since you get the component for the level of the item you’re making, you don’t need to try to craft the expensive purple 10 times. Just make one, then if you don’t crit you can make cheaper items to get the components necessary to create an augment kit.

Q: Given that the crit crafted augmented gear is going for 75-100k per item on servers, how do you think the addition of the ability to add an augment slot to any item will affect the in game economy for crafters?

A: Since augment slots have always been the domain of crafters, we are funneling the Augment Tables through them to avoid shifting demand in the wrong direction.

The price changes will vary depending on the level of the item. The price of some of these items will shift down, others will go up. For items made after 1.3, the crit augment slot matches the level of the item. That means that lower level items won’t get as much inherent value from crits as higher level items. While we expect to see a shift in the value per transaction for many of these items, the cash flow should continue to go in the same direction. The value of non-augmented gear will improve, as it’s actually a viable item now, where previously everything except the crit craft was scrap. Improved value does not guarantee it a market however, especially since that value will have to factor in the cost of adding an augment along with the desire to RE it to create components for an Augmentation Kit. Personally, I’d be more likely to buy non-augmented lower level crafted gear because I’m going to want to upgrade the augment to MK-7. And in some cases, you just can’t get the appearance with the Augmentation Kit, so that gives some value to the kits aside from the individual items.

Q: So, that means if I craft a level 39 custom piece and it crits, its augment slot will only be able to accept augments up to whatever tier corresponds with that item level?

Correct.

Q:  Could you share what the item level tiers will be for the augment slots?

A: (Note: “Level” below is item level, not player level)

Slot                                            Level Min        Level Max

Augmentation Slot MK-1                 10                       16

Augmentation Slot MK-2                 17                       24

Augmentation Slot MK-3                 25                       32

Augmentation Slot MK-4                 33                       40

Augmentation Slot MK-5                 41                       48

Augmentation Slot MK-6                 49+

Q: Can you share with us your thoughts on gear itemization and how that was actually playing out in game versus what you intended that lead to this change?

A: Although the details weren’t decided until recently, all the post-launch itemization systems in SWTOR have been things I’ve wanted for months. Especially with 1.2, I wanted something like augment tables but we didn’t manage to get a system in to go along with the changes to open up mods in the endgame. It sucks when you have an expansive stat customization system and then we throw out caveats like, “Oh, it only works on this small subset of items.” The more freedom and consistency, the better. Player feedback to Public Test for 1.2 indicated to us that there would be strong support for a system that opened up more viable gear, and we felt that augment tables aligned with both our goals and the needs of the playerbase. That feedback helps us get it expedited to try to get it ready ASAP. It might have been cool to get this out between Public Test 1.2 and live 1.2, but the scope of the system meant it would need much more time to do it right.

Along with the feedback we’ve received, the way itemization has played out on live has encouraged us that embracing the full mod route is the right decision. While it may not be apparent, many of the complaints players have had about itemization are concerns we share and are working on addressing. While item mods existed in beta for quite a while, some of the fundamental tech pieces didn’t exist until shortly before launch. Internally, mods make our items inordinately more data-complex and intensive than the items in the average item heavy game, and those complexities are compounded by a live environment.

Q: Any other crafting or itemization surprises up your sleeves for 1.3 that we should be looking out for?

A: We’re reducing extraction costs and improving the quality of many of the level 50 flashpoint drops to support Group Finder.

Thanks so much for this great preview of the 1.3 crew skills changes to augment slots!

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